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Br J Nutr. 2013 Mar 14;109(5):802-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002206. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Polyphenol-rich extract of pomegranate peel alleviates tissue inflammation and hypercholesterolaemia in high-fat diet-induced obese mice: potential implication of the gut microbiota.

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Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue Mounier 73, Box B1.73.11, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


Pomegranate extracts have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to confer health benefits in a number of inflammatory diseases, microbial infections and cancer. Peel fruit are rich in polyphenols that exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities in vitro. Recent studies strongly suggest that the gut microbiota is an environmental factor to be taken into account when assessing the risk factors related to obesity. The aim of the present study was to test the prebiotic potency of a pomegranate peel extract (PPE) rich in polyphenols in a nutritional model of obesity associated with hypercholesterolaemia and inflammatory disorders. Balb/c mice were fed either a control diet or a high-fat (HF) diet with or without PPE (6 mg/d per mouse) over a period of 4 weeks. Interestingly, PPE supplementation increased caecal content weight and caecal pool of bifidobacteria. It did not significantly modify body weight gain, glycaemia, glucose tolerance and inflammatory markers measured in the serum. However, it reduced the serum level of cholesterol (total and LDL) induced by HF feeding. Furthermore, it counteracted the HF-induced expression of inflammatory markers both in the colon and the visceral adipose tissue. Together, these findings support that pomegranate constitutes a promising food in the control of atherogenic and inflammatory disorders associated with diet-induced obesity. Knowing the poor bioavailability of pomegranate polyphenols, its bifidogenic effect observed after PPE consumption suggests the involvement of the gut microbiota in the management of host metabolism by polyphenolic compounds present in pomegranate.

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